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The Settings of Harry Potter and the Landmarks
As we all know the location of the Harry Potter novels are set in England. We see that first off Harry and the Dursley’s live in Surrey England which is the southern part of the island close to the water. Now before we go any further J.K. Rowling set this in modern day England yet uses very few real landmarks. The only ones being London, Surrey and Kings Cross to name a few. Now as we know, Kings Cross is the actual train station in London. What I think would be the most interesting part of to find out where Hogwarts is actually located. As far as we know it is in England. Now due to the weather of cold snowy winter and warmer springs there are a few places that would be good choices for the location. As far as the climate in England goes it has a very mild temperature all year long most places barely hit over 70 degrees Fahrenheit and again most locations rarely get snow. The mountainous areas would be perfect locations to hide the school and all its grounds. Bearing all of that in mind we have a few locations where Hogwarts could be located first is High Martins. They get almost 73 days of snow a year and they have mild summers as well as nasty weather all year round. The second location could be Kielder. Kielder also has a mountainous terrain as well as high snow fall and mild climate. The last and more probably location is somewhere in the Cairngorms National Park area. There are no public roads through the Park as well as high snow fall with summers reaching 70 degrees.
Most likely location of Hogwarts
Possible location of Hogwarts
Third possible location of Hogwarts
The distance between Surrey and London is a 45 minute ride (34 miles). The trip from Surrey to Kings Cross however, is 1 hour and 10 minutes’ drive about 42 miles long. We have to take into account the train ride. The children board the train from Kings Cross at 11 precisely. From there we do not know how long the trip is but we do know that it is dark when they arrive at school. At the end of summer the sun set around 8 in evening maybe a little earlier. So taking that into account we see that the train ride is about 8-9 hours long. The only location that has both the right climate and the ride distance length for a train ride is the Cairngorms National Park Area. If we can surmise that the train makes no stops but travels at the same rate as a regular train it makes sense that Hogwarts is located in the Cairngorms National Park. The train could have been magically equipped with some kind of magic but as the timeline that J.K. Rowling left it seems that it travels like a real train would. The only other possibility with both a similar train ride and the right climate may be Trossachs but it seems to be more of a hilly area rather than mountainous.
In the fourth book we learn that Voldemort was in the house of his father which we find out is 200 miles from Surrey. Before that we learned on multiple occasions that Voldemort was sickly and not human in the forests of Albania. What would make sense is that he was in the Forests of Kosovo, which covers over 40% of the country. From that I would say Voldemort was in the general are of the Sar Mountains in Albania. From Albania to England it is over 1700 miles. We know that Wormtail had to move Voldemort back to England. Wormtail had gone back to Voldemort at the end of term during Harry’s third year. What that means is under a month and a half Wormtail was able to move Voldemort that far. By car it is a 28 hour car ride. Now Wormtail knew magic but would Voldemort have been able to Apparate in his condition. Now we know the name of the village the Riddle’s lived but what it is not a real place. Unfortunately we have to make an educated guess about where it is based on what we know. What we know is almost next to nothing other than it is close to a larger village. There are roughly three major area where the Riddles village could have been the first is near Plymouth, the second maybe around Newark and the third near the Cambrian Mountains. These three locations are about 200 miles from Surrey and could easily hold small villages surrounded by hills. Around the Cambrian Mountains seems more likely but other than a few descriptions we do not have much to go on. Neither do we have much of description on what orphanage Voldemort was at we know that Merope sold the locket to Burke who was at the time located in London and not long after was when she passed. We know that Dumbledore gave Voldemort direction to Diagon Alley and Voldemort knew where it was. So the orphanage was either in London or close to London. Again we have to make a guess at where the cave was where Dumbledore and Harry found the sixth Horcrux. There are many locations that it could have been but the most likely seems to be around Southend-On-Sea. It is a straight shot from London and probably was the cheapest place to go for a field trip.
The location of the Burrow is a difficult to place because there are conflicting facts that lead me to believe that it is not where we think. In the second book we find out that the Weasleys live outside of a small village called Ottery St Catchpole which could be based on Ottery St Mary’s in Devon. The trip from Surrey to Devon is 154 miles or three hours in the car. The Weasleys came in the night to pick up Harry and they got back in the early morning as the sun had been up. Later in the fourth book while traveling to the Portkey for the Quidditch World Cup we see that they pass the same small village. The Portkey is located on Stoat head Hill which does not exist. Based on being close to Ottery St Mary’s in Devon I have figured that the Weasleys live in either Gittisham or Sidbury. Both have large open areas where the Weasleys house could be located. Later in the fourth book we find out that the Weasley’s get Muggle Taxi’s to take them to Kings Cross. As I’ve said this is over a three hour trip. I know taxi’s will make an hour trip or so but three hours seems ridiculous. I have contacted the main UK taxi service and have asked if that trip is possible. I have not heard back from them. What it seems like is that it may be possible since during the trip back to London they made it to Kings Cross fifteen minutes before the train departed having been up at around 6 but not leaving till late. Mr. Weasley wanted to use the buttons on the car to get there in under ten minutes. So I do not know whether this is really where it is or if the location is closer to London but for now let’s say it’s around the area of Ottery St. Catchpole.
There are many other locations in the Harry Potter series but most of them are in London or around Hogwarts itself. The Forest of Dean which is where Harry, Ron, and Hermione had been camping out for much of the seventh book is located in Wales, UK near Gloucester. There is still Godric’s Hollow and Spinners End and the Malfoy Manor most of which are somewhere in central Muggle populated places. I understand that J.K. Rowling would want to create villages and towns but I think that some of the towns could have been real to at least give us some sense of where everything was located. I think that overall she did a good job with the locations and the only location that is in question is the Burrow.
Possible location for the Burrow
Possible Location of Burrow
Possible Location of Cave containg Horcrux
The Dursleys Home
Forest where Harry, Ron, and Hermione stayed
Possible location for Riddle Village
Possible location for Riddle Village
Where do you think Hogwarts is located?
J.K. Rowling also used the villages, towns, and cities in England to create some of the characters names in the Harry Potter Series. Some of the name are Flitwick, Snape, Dursley, Dudley, Runcorn, Lilies Leaf and Potters Bar.
Sources used: Rowling, J.K. (1998) The Harry Potter Series. Scholastic Inc.